Martha Picks Some Hits from Pow! Wow! Hawaii (Part I)

Photographer Martha Cooper just returned to New York from Hawaiian paradise and the 5th Pow! Wow! Festival, which this year featured an unprecedented number of artist that some estimate at 100.

Naturally with a herd that big, you’d have to be a regular cattle hand with a camera to capture all of the action, but the fast moving Cooper collected a number of images that we can share here with BSA readers over the next couple of days, along with her notes on the experience.

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Gaia’s portraits of Queen Lili’uokalini and King Kalakaua. Solomon Enos and Prime collaborated on the rest of the wall. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Kaka’ako is the name of the neighborhood where most of the murals are located and Ms. Cooper compares it to the Miami site that also has hosted a large number of legal walls for the last few years. “It’s a Wynwood-type neighborhood but with a longer, more esteemed history,” she says, and “Like Wynwood it’s slated for development.” For example a library that many of the local Hawaiian artists painted will soon be torn down to make space for condos. Good thing Street Artist Gaia and Vhils were  there to bring some of the local historical and mythological elements, including portraits of Hawaiian royalty.

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VHILS portrait of King Lunalilo. (photo © Martha Cooper)

An interesting aspect of this event, and there were many, was the pairing of many artists on walls to combine and merge  their styles to create new works. “There were a surprising number of unusual collaborations at Pow! Wow!,” says Martha. “Some were odd mashups like Tatiana Suarez and Woes, and Buff Monster and Nychos seemed like a good match. I think it must have been challenging for the artists. Cope & Indie also asked Buff Monster and 123Klan to collaborate on their wall.”

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Tatiana (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Tatiana and Woes collaboration. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Cope2 and Indi184 with Buff Monster and 123Klan. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Cope2 and Indi184 getting a few pointers from daughters Samara and Samira (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Cope2 and Indi184 (photo © Martha Cooper)

Another trend this year: Elvis. “Elvis is big in Hawaii,” Martha remarks, and she says it is because of his celluloid records in addition to his vinyl ones. “He made three movies in Hawaii,” and she mentions the Elvis mask that Wayne White made as a good example of Presley magic on the tropical island of Honolulu. “I especially liked the way Madsteez incorporated existing graffiti into his wall because he made good use of the corrugated iron surface which was difficult to paint on but it had a nice patina when finished.” Interestingly, Madsteez gave his blue Elvis an eye patch that mimics the artist’s own worldview.

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Madsteez (photo © Martha Cooper)

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INSA and Roid (photo © Martha Cooper)

Insa is one of the first GIFFITTI artists – and his wall with ROID for Pow! Wow” recalls the typography and graphic style of commercial 1980s TV shows like Miami Vice and the New Wave as interpreted by MTV. The resulting GIF is a funny simple animation that somehow brings the nostalgia alive.  Looks like paradise from here!

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INSA and Roid (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Seth working on his wall on the left.  ZesMSK, Askew and Reyes wall on the right. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Katch (photo © Martha Cooper)

Katch did a lil’ animation to go with his wall also, which you can see HERE.

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Katch (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Meggs and Bask collaboration. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Yoshi and Estria collaboration. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Buff Monster and Nychos collaboration. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Andrew Shoultz (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Kawaisan and Maozhidong collaboration and commentary on the Honolulu traffic. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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Meanshaka (photo © Martha Cooper)

 

 

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